Well, we tried for 10 years or so to get family to come south to warmer weather and join us for Thanksgiving, but finally gave up this year and loaded the family into the van and drove up to PA for Thanksgiving weekend. Driving up 81 on Thanksgiving day was nice, roads weren't busy at all, but then we got to PA and it was rainy and messy… but we all perked up once we started seeing snow on the farm fields.
There was a bit of snow on the grass when we arrived at Mom’s, but that was it and no more was to come. We enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast and eat till we could eat no more…then started on the desserts. The weekend was a bit hectic traveling back and forth Mom’s place to Laurie’s, Laurie’s place to Mom’s, Mom’s place to Terry’s, Terry’s place to Mom’s, Mom’s Place to Laurie’s, and once more from Laurie’s place to Mom’s. Oh… the exciting part (sorry mom) was getting back to mom’s place at 9:30 and finding the house locked up and no way to get in… the heavy sleepers slept through door bells ringing, phones ringing and more. Called Laurie and she helped me find a way in.
The kids had a blast playing with cousins, Rock Band and Michael’s drums and don’t forget the movies and popcorn.
Below are a few pictures from the weekend. Click on an image to view it larger and notice that you can click next and previous to see the rest. Here is a link to all the pictures in a slide show at Windows Live.
We skipped a year or two, but it was time to attempt another family photo shoot at Myrtle Beach. This time it was over the Halloween weekend so time for the photo shoot was limited to Saturday morning. Unfortunately for the photographer ( ME ) it was a clear, bright sunny morning. The children just wanted to dig and play in the sand, not sit still, pay attention and not squint at the camera.
No matter what direction the subjects were looking… it was too bright, but we did our best. I turned on the built in flash for fill light, attempting to remove dark shadows and contrast. Unfortunately the power of the sun was too much and almost all pictures needed to be “tweaked” in LightRoom to reduce the clipping (when the whites become pure white and the blacks become pure black). To the untrained eye and the polite family members… these pictures may look just fine, but I know how much better they could be. Mental note for next time, pictures just before dusk with a flash and now towel to sit on.
The beach trip it self was a success, stayed at Dunes Village Resort. This place has a small water park with few pools, lazy river, some water slides and more. But as usual, the visit was too short.
Here are a few pictures from the photo shoot.
August sure was a busy month for us. After a week at Pocono Plateau, we stopped by Terry’s place in PA to celebrate Johnny's and Dona's Birthdays with a swim and a bite to eat. Laurie was there with Joey and Jessica, so our kids had a blast swimming together for a while. It was a short visit, but good none the less. After Terry’s we went to moms for the night and left bright and early the next morning for home.
The Great Barn at Stone Mountain Park is a large 3 story barn featuring super slides, trampoline floors, climbing structures and foam balls everywhere. At the center of the barn is some sort of pretend fruit harvesting machine. The kids grab colorful sacks and fill them with colored balls. Through out the barn on 3 levels, there are games or tasks for the kids to accomplish using these colored foam fruit balls. At each station they use balls to earn points like in a game, or just use one of the many air blasting guns and shoot the foam balls around the barn. Kids and adults (young at heart) can have fun for hours in here.
Ride the Ducks at Stone Mountain Park is a great way to learn about the parks history while you enjoy a ride on a 1940’s era land and water vehicle around the park. For some reason the boys were not too interested in this event, but Caitlin was, so Kim and Caitlin got to enjoy this ride. Caitlin was even given time to steer the duck. Ride the Ducks was also featured on the CBS show, Undercover Boss.
Antebellum Plantation at Stone Mountain Park is a collection of buildings from between 1783 and 1875 with extensive collection of period furniture and decorations reflecting that diverse lifestyle in the 18th and 19th century Georgia. We didn’t make it here till the last hour or so on our last day when the park was closing.
Due to the early time of the season, Spring Break, some things were not even open or operating in many parts of the park.
We did get a season and plan to go back… maybe we will go back in the winter and enjoy Snow Mountain.
You can view a map of Stone Mountain Park here.
Here are a few more pictures from our visit at Stone Mountain Park. Feel free to click on each thumbnail image for a larger view.
While at Stone Mountain Park, we spent most of our time at the Sky Hike area of the park. Sky Hike is kind of like a high ropes course for the masses. Instead of one person at a time with a safety harness connected to a long rope and a one or two assistants on the ground belaying the rope where you have to walk an obstacle between two trees, Sky Hike is steel structure with a quarter mile network of “C” channel (a patented overhead safety system) that you hook the rope from your safety harness to and simply move from one obstacle to another at 12, 24 or 40 feet in the air.
When we got a look at the Sky Hike, the boys were like… WOW…. lets go, Caitlin on the other hand was a bit apprehensive at first. But by the time we finished the first level, she was ready to go to the second level and disappointed that the 3rd level was closed. For each 3 days we were here, we stared at the Sky Hike for a few hours. Also at the Sky Hike they have 2 to 3 rock climbing walls and a smaller, shorter and much closer to the ground rope climbing course for the littler kids (and adults).
Below is just a small collection of a ton of pictures I took the last day we were there. Feel free to click on each thumbnail image for a larger view.
A majority of our time during spring break was spent at Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, GA, just east of Atlanta. Stone Mountain Park is all about the BIG Rock, or rather stone. This is where the famous stone carving is of three Confederate heroes of the Civil War: Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and Lt. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
We spent 3 days here at Stone Mountain Park. On our second day to the park, we took the cable car ride ( Summit Skyride ) up 825 feet to the summit of the stone granite. The weather was quite nice, but a bit hazy. We enjoyed a walking around the summit and taking a few pictures. Here are just a few of those pictures.
Feel free to click on each thumbnail image for a larger view.
As always, feel free to leave a comment.
During our Spring Break vacation, we visited the Atlanta Zoo. The zoo is not out in some rural area as is the North Carolina Zoological Park, but instead is just out side of downtown. When we pulled up to the zoo, it reminded me of a public park and parking lots were small. Once through the gates and reviewing the map of the zoo we confirmed what we suspected that this zoo is a much smaller zoo then ours in NC. Not that it has less animals, but is condensed into a smaller area. The NC zoo may take you most the day to go from one end to the other, but here you could go back and forth in a crisscross pattern through out the day if needed.
View Larger Map
Even though it has a smaller zoo area, it has a lot packed into it as the map above shows. Some highlights for us included the Gorilla’s, Panda Bears, Elephants and the Kookaburra bird. They are known for their Panda Bear exhibit, and they did have one, but it small, but it was still cool to see Panda bears. The Gorilla’s on the other hand had a huge exhibit and there must have been close to 22 gorillas. We got to watch the Gorillas get fed and ask questions of the zoo employee that was doing the feeding. We also enjoyed a talk with the zoo personnel at the Kookaburra bird exhibit while they fed the bird crickets.
Unfortunately I think we were there a bit early in the season because there didn’t seem to be much zoo staff and some food stands were still closed. Below is a small selection of pictures taken at the zoo. You can watch the slide show or view selected pictures one at a time below the slide show.